“Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (Matt 19:16)
Here are some things to consider as you meditate on this scripture:
First, notice that the Rich Young Ruler’s question to Jesus was “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (v.16)
In response to that question, Jesus says, “Sell all that you have and give it to the poor and then come and follow me.” (v.21)
Throughout the Gospels, several other people come to Jesus and ask him this exact same question.
Guess what? Jesus never gives the same answer to anyone twice.
I think it’s because Jesus is able to look into the hearts of those who are asking and he can see what is holding them back from submitting themselves to him as their King, and therefore what needs to change in order for them to enter the Kingdom of God.
For Nicodemus, a wise and well-respected Pharisee, the terms of surrender were to become like a baby again and start over from the beginning with a new birth.
For the Rich Young Ruler, it was letting go of his wealth.
For Peter, it was walking away from the biggest catch of fish he had ever had in his entire life.
For Matthew, it was quitting his job as a tax collector on the spot to follow Jesus.
For Zaccheus, it was giving half of his possessions to the poor and paying back four times the money he had extorted as a tax collector.
For the Thief on the Cross, it was simply recognizing that Jesus was a King who would soon be coming into His Kingdom.
If it’s your great wealth or your love of money, then maybe that’s what Jesus would ask you to surrender to Him.
In every case, the terms of surrender were unique to the individual.
So, what is it that’s holding you back from following Jesus with your actual life today?
If it’s your intellect and your position of respect and authority in the community, maybe it’s complete humility and the willingness to become simple and foolish in the eyes of men in order to identify yourself as a follower of Jesus.
If it’s your job, then maybe you should walk away from it like Peter and Matthew did to follow Him.
For some people, it’s forgiving someone who hurt us. For still others, it’s turning the other cheek and loving our enemy.
For each of us, there is probably that one thing that we would find difficult to surrender to Jesus in order to enter the Kingdom.
What, if anything, is keeping you from seeing the Kingdom or following Jesus today?
Honestly, that’s all that we really need to ask ourselves.
If you’re brave, please share with me in the comments below the “one thing” that, for you, is the hardest thing to trust Jesus with.
Letting go of what we have in this world is easy when we understand that Jesus doesn’t want to deprive us of anything. He really only wants to give us Himself and His Kingdom, which is worth so much more than anything in this life. Once we understand that, we should be eager to let go of anything that takes His place in our lives or anything that prevents us from fully knowing Jesus as He really is.
The really, really good news? Jesus promises that whatever we surrender in this life will be restored to us a hundredfold. So, really, there’s no risk at all. Talk about a money-back guarantee!
Now, what the terms of your surrender?
Keith Giles is the author of “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb” and co-host of the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He lives in Orange, CA with his wife and two sons and is part of a house church where 100% of the offerings are given away to help the poor in the community.